93642164There's more to you than being cheap, and -- believe it or not -- that actually matters to your customers. More goes into their purchase decision than just the lowest price, depending on where they are in their buying cycle. For ecommerce marketers stuck in the never-ending spiral of margin-slashing and price competition, this is very good news.

Now, we’re not denying that discount offers can result in sales for people who are ready for them -- in fact, they can be very powerful. But we do take exception to throwing coupons at people three times a week with no regard to what their actual needs are or what really matters to them. To understand what we mean by that, we need to examine what really happens every time you send out an email blast to your entire contact list.

Lots of Work for Little Return

First, over 90% of your contacts will ignore that email. Whether the message went straight to spam or the recipient actively deleted without reading, the outcome is the same. All that work went straight to the trashcan. Why? Because there's nothing relevant or timely about your communication. We all know, intuitively, that the right message sent to the right people at the right time creates a more effective customer experience -- yet so few ecommerce marketers actively practice that.

If you’re okay with losing 90% of your audience every time you send out an email, you may not need to read further. If you want to capture more of those potential buyers, then on we go.

So, let’s say you’re excited about the nearly 10% who opened your email. Something in there must be pretty amazing to catch their interest, but you sent a coupon instead. In return for your efforts, less than 1% of recipients will click through to your website. Let’s reverse that for maximum effect: 99% of your recipients WILL NOT click through to your website.

From that one percent who clicks through to your website, you may score a purchase or two. Will those customers come back without the promise of a discount? It’s not likely. Instead of fostering a strong relationship between you and your buyers, you’ve inspired a one-off purchase. That’s a lot of work every week for customers who probably won’t stick around long enough to even begin to calculate a lifetime value.

Here’s Another Option

By segmenting your email lists and providing content that’s of value, you can begin to build a relationship with your potential customers. Our case study using Baudville Trophies gives all the proof you need that this method works. For their first email to recent visitors, Baudville focused on education. The email sent offered free resources that could help undecided buyers make more informed decisions.

When the time came to send their second email, Baudville still refrained from blasting their entire list with discounts. Instead, they laid out their unique selling proposition, which outlined their guarantee (customers love security), engraving services (customers love personalization), their budget options (customers love saving money), free logo option (customers love free), and their program for viewing customized trophies right there on the site before purchase (customers love cool technology and instant gratification).

email showing USP

This second email, sent four days after the first, also experienced significant improvement in open and click-through rates. The 17.8% open rate it received is an 81% increase, and the click rate of 1.7%, while not as impressive as 718% from the first email, is still a 93% improvement over the usual click-through rate of .88%.

What We’ve Learned

Customers are searching for ecommerce companies they can trust. With each bit of information you share about your company, you build that rapport. When those buyers need products your site carries, you’ll see return visits—not because you offered a discount but because your care, value, and attention to the customers’ needs keeps you at the forefront of their minds.

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Baudville is a HubSpot customer working with senior ecommerce inbound marketing consultant Steve Haase.

Originally published Nov 27, 2013 10:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016

Topics:

Email Marketing Ecommerce